One major reason to vote yes for the referendum: accessibility. Imagine being a student in a wheelchair or using assistive devices to navigate 1950s school buildings. Our school has not been updated to accommodate people with disabilities, except for the addition of a steep and often slippery ramp.
The most accessible bathrooms are those in the natatorium wing, many sections of the school are divided by heavy glass doors, handicapped parking is limited and far away, the curbs are not appropriately cut for a student to navigate, and there are stairs everywhere. I can’t imagine trying to get across the street between classes on a good day, much less one with inclement weather.
A couple of years ago, I returned to the school as a person with a disability and was almost in tears over the efforts to get to a concert. Even with someone to push me in my wheelchair, we couldn’t find a curb cut, we couldn’t get the doors open, the auditorium had no accessible seating and there was no way to get to the bathroom without climbing stairs.
It’s impossible to properly retrofit these old buildings to meet ADA standards and the standards that students with disabilities deserve. Automatic doors are a necessity, not a luxury, as are accessible bathrooms, classrooms, parking spaces and curb cuts. Voting yes on the referendum says yes to all of our students — with and without disabilities.
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E. Emily Steffensmeier